Isea 2022 - Possibles

'Artist talk'

'Artist talk'

June 14th

Artist talk / Art, Science, Nature and Culture: Expressive Science in the Digital Age

Authors: Cynthia Beth Rubin


Artist presentation of works exploring the spiritual collision of nature and culture, in the context of practice as an early adopter of digital imaging, with a return to direct gestural drawing. Series includes scientific microphotography of plankton, motivated by the urgency of raising awareness of importance of microscopic life.


Theme: microphotography, gesture, drawing, plankton, manuscripts

More information:

  • Abstract: For over a decade my work has made visible the normally invisible microscopic life. Plankton, in their endless variety, stir my imagination and impulse to observe, draw, and create. Influenced and by scientists in the Menden-Deuer lab, as well as current events, my commitment to depicting plankton grew in the face of climate change. In addition to producing 50% oxygen we breathe they are at the bottom of the food chain. 

    As the explorations evolved, lessons of painterly abstraction crept into this work. I imagined the natural ocean environment of plankton filmed in the lab, which led to thinking about gesture drawing. If I could be loose and expressive in drawing humans, why not with plankton? 
    The bits of the Biblical Manuscripts present in this series are intended as signifiers, not as religious Text, but as reference to human history and general spirituality. In parallel with my investigations of plankton, I was creating imagery incorporating visual structures of Hebrew Manuscripts. The tradition of the manuscripts includes micrography (little writing) turned into decorative patterns and sometimes fanciful beasts. I sensed a convergence, and the moment I put the plankton and patterns of the Hebrew Manuscripts together the convergence instantly emerged. This series uses motifs from the Leningrad Codex, created in Old Cairo in 1008, likely by artists from the Asher scriptorium.

    New technology facilitated this work. Scientific researchers working today use digital imaging, recording microscopic life for later study in format accessible to artists.  Much of the Leningrad Codex is  digitized and online. Inexpensive printing allowed for interim outputs of evolving digital imagery, subject to gestural drawing and redigitizing. Thus I am able to bring Nature and Culture together with the goal of stirring inner thoughts, recalling the continuum of human history while highlighting essential microscopic life. 

  • Biography: Cynthia Beth Rubin began the transition from painting to digital imaging in the early 1980’s. Her prints, videos, and interactive works have been shown in the Techspressionism exhibition, NY Creative Tech Week, Jewish Museum in Prague, Siberia State Museum in Novosibirsk, the Kyrgyzstan State Museum, on the ICC tower in Hong Kong, the Cotton Club screen in Harlem, and numerous editions of ISEA and SIGGRAPH. Rubin’s awards include multiple Connecticut Artist Fellowships, the New England Foundation on the Arts, among others, and artist residencies in France, Israel, Canada, and Scotland. She is artist-in-residence in the Menden-Deuer lab at the University of Rhode Island, School of Oceanography, thus her practice includes collaborations with scientists studying plankton and their predators. Based in New Haven, Connecticut, her studio practice extends to New York City, Narragansett RI and beyond


  • MACBA - Convent dels Àngels

Plaça dels Àngels, 5, Barcelona

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